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Neocon Winter of Discontent
alph Peters slinks away from his car wreck in Iraq hoping no one saw him help driving.
He finally bows to consensus reality and concedes Iraq is 'unwinnable'. But oh the delusions that remain.
Those of us who hoped that the Iraqis could achieve democracy were wrong — and their failure has implications for the entire region . . . Iraq was the Arab world's last chance to board the train to modernity, to give the region a future, not just a bitter past. The violence staining Baghdad's streets with gore isn't only a symptom of the Iraqi government's incompetence, but of the comprehensive inability of the Arab world to progress in any sphere of organized human endeavor. We are witnessing the collapse of a civilization.
All those who rooted for Iraq to fail are going to be chastened by what follow. And contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn't be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that. Iraq was never our Vietnam. It's al-Qaeda's Vietnam. They're the ones who can't leave and who can't win.
o to be clear, Peters concedes the Administration was less than competent. But to him the Iraqis are the ones responsible for provoking the half assed OIF in the first place and then turning their nation into another Lebanon.
eters remains deceitful to the last, shirking his responsibility as one of the coarse, third tier cheerleaders for violence and force. (He offers instead a Hastert-like hollow acknowledgement of responsibility that offers much but accepts nothing).
How he thinks Iraq a trifling failure not even on a Vietnam scale says alot. Vietnam was a minor geopolitical struggle on the periphery of the main contest to contain Soviet power. Pullout there left the central system strategic equation unaffected or any other core geostrategic interest. And within 10 years from that pullout we were on the cusp of winning the Cold War. We agree with Bill Odom (much as it surprises us, but that is a long story) that Iraq is the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.
Failure in Iraq by contrast has pulverized the stability of the region that is vital to the global economy — but then hated stability and Realists were always the true enemies of Peters and Neocons when launching this absurd CF.
Iraq has stirred the passions and hatreds of an ecumenae numbering approximately 1 billion. The balance of power in the region is decisively against the U.S. and its non-radicalized allies. U.S. prestige, soft power and political capital has been depleted by the Administration's reckless policies and incompetence. Not to mention the treasure and blood lost.
But Peters goes one further. He claims somehow Iraq is actually a victory for the U.S. somehow because it is Al Qaeda's Vietnam. For real. Read his piece again. We normally “grok” Neocon Kool Aid trips but not this one.
How Peters' audience reacts to his volte face will be interesting. Many undoubtedly already knew Iraq was lost, and no longer believed in elections, purple digits, or Dubya's secret plans and wunderwaffen
. Yet many also required Peters and others to continue to at least pretend to believe in Victory to assuage their own pain from cognitive dissonance. The penalty for Peters and others to peddle the Kool Aid is also high. Billmon's report that Fox News continues its ratings free fall
shows how thin the triumphalist gruel has become. (MSNBC is enjoying a ratings increase)
Fox News's total audience fell 24 percent in the past year, to 1.3 million viewers from 1.7 million, and its key primetime audience, viewers ages 25-54, was down 7 percent in October on a year-to-year basis, to an average 363,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data. In third quarter, Fox News suffered a 38 percent decline in 25-54s, to 409,000.
temporary blip, of course, until audience disenchantment, shame and anger is re-directed to the 'stab in the back' meme and then Iran.
Look for them beginning early Spring 2007.
“Yet many also required Peters and others to continue to at least pretend to believe in Victory to assuage their own pain from cognitive dissonance.”
Yes, Doc. Emotional factors are very important - That may partially explain his 'bridge to far' attempt to re-conceptualize Iraq as Qaeda's Nam.
We doubt that meme will survive the ruthless and rapid meme-evolution cycle that will kick into overdrive in the next few months - then yesrs.
True, as soon as we leave, many of the Qaeda types and foreigners will be immediately rounded up and destroyed and people will wonder why the Iraqis didn't do that earlier. So they'll blame the Democrats or the Candians or the French.
The fact the right had total control over the last few years is a fact that is just too painfull. Rage will have to be sluiced off. It has barely begun. Any verbal slip - even accidentaly ones by a Kerry or a Durban (reading actual Bureau reports) or others will be seized by the powers that be to sow fear, hatred, and misunderstanding within armed forces and elsewhere. Dangerous.
It's somewhat mysterious how a group of people who avoided war and who make up stories and mislead families of the fallen (Tillman, Lynch, many others) and lose wars are able to still strut about with their huah-ness still intact. Only someday, will an astuts foreign genius - like a Tocqueville - will be able to explain this adequately. Sometimes we see partial explainations - sometimes we think we “grok” it - but then it elludes us.
If the Dems win the House (we think they will,but we have doubts about the Senate), future Committee Chairs better gird themselves for assuming total responsibility for the Iraq war. Time for them to beef up their staff and geat ready.
Is Henry Waxman ready to accept the responsibility for the greates strategic disaster in American history (Odom)? If not - he's lucky, Waxman willl be allowed to share blame with Rangel.
We think Billmon is heading in the wrong direction in his overall analyis. We think the next few years will necessitate an increased need, a greater market, to deliver a hard edged rightist leaning explaination of just about everything. Downward blips now are just that - Try to imagine looking a rock up and down three month graph of Microsoft stock price fluctuations in say 1990 - and how those big wavy charts look like barely noticable blips when you look at 1990-2000 ten year Microsoft chart.
But Billman may be right - his micro analysis often is. What the actula future holds? Who knows?
“The violence staining Baghdad's streets with gore isn't only a symptom of the Iraqi government's incompetence, but of the comprehensive inability of the Arab world to progress in any sphere of organized human endeavor. We are witnessing the collapse of a civilization.”
To restate, the flawed Arab character is to be blamed for Iraqis' inability to sever their tribal and religious ties (traditional security) and embrace democracy and individual rights (vague promises of freedom) when confronted with the violent reality of daily life in “the central front in the war on terrorism” created by the U.S.
Just a matter of time for this flawed and vile logic to emerge I guess.
What is really striking is how much freedom is still being surrendered in the U.S. (where individual freedom is the tradition) after two terrorist attacks five years ago.
Peters sounds like he's about had with the Arabs, as a race. The Arabs have failed him. According to Peters, they just won't stop killing each other - and this annoys Ralph. So he thinks they , as a people and a civilization, are basically hopeless.
Peters is pretty strict - Has he written off the Germans. Afterall, the Holocaust and their wars was worse than anything the Arabs have done. What about the Russians and their purges, mass killings, famines, pograms, gulags, torture, and all the rest. Does Peters write them off, as a people? How about the Japanese? Were they as rough with the Koreans and Manchurians as the Arabs are with each other, in Iraq? Compare the number of people killed in the Middle East since ww 2 to the Europe body count of 100 million plus.
Peters seems racially selective in his civilizational standards. Didn't the British wipe out countless Kenyans? We could go on, but that's not the point.
What Peters is probably just attempting to do is to provide a set of memes, understandings, and talking points to his particular audience that will allow them to admit, while saving face, that 'the left' and some others may have been right about invading Iraq - but for ignoble reasons. Had the liberayed Arabs risen to the grab the Peters Apple, all would have been well.
Peters occupies an interesting spot in pundit land. He's often - grouped in with the neos but with his own edge and eclectic undercurrent. If this were baseball, he'd be a good utility infielder who moves up the majors from time to time, only to be sent back to the minors. He actually served in the military - and he tries to let you know that from time to time - He doesn't seem to realize it's better to be misunderstood, than to be one of many credentialed vets. Wouldn't it be better for him if people thought he was a c-hawk and that way every time he wrote one of his boodthirsty columns he would have the satisfaction of receiving inaccurate attack replies?
It must annoy him to see others get undesrved credit - while he labors in minors knowing that he has what it takes to be on the next level. You can just sense that he is annoyed by VDH and some others who get more respek.
Advice to Ralph - stop pretending to care about people you want to bomb. Faux concern and faux sincerity are growing old - Only a few pundits have the equinimity to pull that tone off anyway.
The scaffolding of pundity is interesting - why some people are respectable and influential and othees are not. NY Times columnists - like Dowd, Brooks, Friedman, along with older ones like that woman whose names escapes (she writes for Newsweek now) have alwats seemed over rated to us for some reason. But apparently we are wrong - we are missing something. The better neoconservative pundits are so much better, skillwise. Of course, they have many within their ranks too that seem to be running on fumes (but getting speaking fees and book deals somehow)
Mark Steyn is often a good pundit - even though we disagree with him and think he has declined a bit as he has tried to funnel all reality within the confines of his ideology. But read this awful praise he gets from VDH about his new book:
“The wider English-reading public discovered the genius of Mark Steyn after September 11 ... he is funny in an understated way .. he may be the most interesting satirist now writing in English.”
Now that's satire, isn't it? Notice how VDH gets everything wrong - Calls Steyn the best satrist, when Steyn is not -Calls the outspoken Steyn an understater - Says Steyn was discovered after 9-11 when he was well known earlier - etc, etc ,etc.
Late on VDH highlights some Steyn quips that are just not that big a deal. -
“Consider a few quips from his latest volume about Westerners’ neurotic propensity to worry that we aren’t accommodating enough when we are already way beyond 1930s appeasement. “The corpulent snorer in the La-Z-Boy recliner may have a beautifully waxed Ferrari in the garage, but he hates having to take it out on the potholed roads. Still, it looks mighty nice in the driveway when he washes it;” “The U.S. military hands each jihadist his complimentary copy of the Koran as delicately as white-gloved butlers bringing His Lordship the Times of London.”
Pretty underwhelming - You gotta wonder why these guys love to use the Army if its so iredeemably pc. But here is the classic VDH blowtorch of wrongness to wrap it up:
”Rarely mentioned, much less appreciated, is the low probability that another American president would have removed Saddam, or stayed around to secure Iraq, in the face of such criticism.“
Got that Doc -”stayed around to secure Iraq."
Priceless — VDH truly has a tin ear. Perhaps it is because of his years blasting Foghat and Grand Funk Railroad in his frat basement. 'Blowtorch of wrongness' is the perfect wrap up.
Who will win the blame shift game re Perle et al. vs. Dubya? Assymetrical warfare there. Perle et al. have a parasitical survival instinct and years of practice jettisoning hosts and finding more munificent ones. Dubya and Rove have the cold ruthlessness of seasoned knifefighters, a trail of corpses, money and institutional megaphones. An Iron Cage Grudge Match . . .
It's possible that both Bush and the neos will prevail , but on seperate planes.
Bush is quite simply a genius at blame shifting and accountability shifting. It's built into his grammer, the way he phrases things. It's very much connected to the way his complimentary nicknames are also a means of putting people down preemptively.
The whole world blames the neos - in part because they don't even notice how Bush works. That's not to defend the neos, mind you. They are to be blamed, ofcourse. It's just that blaming the neos and the fact that everyone notices what they are trying to do is 'discounted' into the price of their reps. Whereas with Bush - he gets away with it, in part, because the opposition has a psychic need to think Bush is not responsible for his own mistakes because he is dim - in their view.
But just contemplate how you feel if you're someone like Perle. You try to do some side business deals and Sy Hersh reports on it. You pay a small price and move on. But if you'r part of the Bush family, you can get away with doing business with Hu Jintao's family, the Bin Laden family, the House of Saud, etc - But no one raises hell - It's stays stuck in the pages of the Nation.